Womens Health

Antidepressants During Pregnancy

In the past pregnancy hormones were thought to actually protect women from depression, but current research proves that to be unfounded. Although pregnancy doesn't necessarily make depression worse, it can certainly trigger a wide variety of emotions which can, in turn, make it more difficult to cope with your underlying depression. If you are currently taking antidepressants and are either thinking about getting pregnant, or are already pregnant, you should be aware of the issues surrounding antidepressant drugs and the possible effects on your baby. While taking antidepressants during your pregnancy may pose certain health risks to your unborn baby, going cold turkey could almost certainly pose health risks for you. You likely already know that, although it may have been difficult to find the right antidepressant drug for your body, once you did, your symptoms of depression were relieved, and you began to feel like "yourself" again.

Your Health

If you do not take good care of your depression symptoms during your pregnancy, your health may be in jeopardy, which in turn puts your baby's health at risk as well. When we are depressed we tend to have little energy and really just don't care about what is going on around us. You may not take good care of yourself, or may not eat healthy foods because it just seems like too much trouble. You may not get good prenatal healthcare, may skip doctor's appointments, and may have little joy in your pregnancy overall. Severe depression while pregnant can even lead some to turn to smoking or alcohol in an attempt to relieve the pain. Untreated depression brings a high price, most especially during pregnancy as your baby could be born prematurely, have a low birth weight or developmental problems, and you may be at a much greater risk of developing postpartum depression as well.

What Are the Risks For My Baby?

Overall, the risk of birth defects for babies of mothers who take antidepressants during pregnancy is relatively low, however "relatively low" may not be enough to put your mind at ease.

· Celexa has been associated with a rare but serious newborn lung problem when taken during the last half of pregnancy as well as septal hearth defects anencephaly, and a birth defect which affects the abdominal organs. Discuss with your doctor.

· Prozac has been associated with PPHN when taken during the last half of pregnancy; discuss with your doctor.

· Paxil has been associated with fetal heart defects when taken during the first three months of pregnancy, and with PPHN when taken during the last half of pregnancy. It has also been associated with anecephaly, craniosynostosis and omphalocele. You should avoid taking Paxil during pregnancy.

· Zoloft has been associated with PPHN when taken during the last half of pregnancy, and associated with septal heart defects. Consult your doctor regarding use during pregnancy.

· Nardil or Parmate may cause a severe increase in blood pressure which can trigger a stroke-avoid during pregnancy.

· Amitriptyline or Pamelor had earlier studies which suggested risks of limb malformations, but has not been confirmed in newer studies. Consider as an option and discuss with your doctor.

· Wellbutrin has no established risks for use during pregnancy; consider as an option.

Children of mothers with major depression were born at an average of 35.6 weeks compared to 39.4 weeks for mothers with no history of depression. The cord blood of babies who were born to depressed mothers had much higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and motor maturity of babies born to mothers who suffered from depression tended to be slightly lower. There is no clear-cut answer to the question of whether or not you should continue to take your antidepressants during your pregnancy. There are plenty of good reasons to continue; you might need to switch the type of antidepressant you are currently taking so the risks to your baby will be lessened. You should thoroughly discuss the issue with your doctor, and talk about all your options regarding your antidepressant medication and your pregnancy.

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